My Week with Eq: The USB Chronicles, Part Deux

Sections: Car Audio, Infotainment

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The guilty USB stick

This is the USB stick Chevrolet MyLink would not recognize in my 2013 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ test car. No big deal– it was a freebie USB drive anyway. (Lyndon Johnson photo)

Earlier this week, I told you of my difficulties getting a USB stick to be recognized by my tester Chevrolet Equinox’s MyLink infotainment system. I wondered if my previous pendrive Linux install on this stick might have been to blame. Short answer: It wasn’t.

Never one to unduly criticize a technology unfamiliar to me, I wanted to be sure it was not my own stupidity that caused the USB stick in question to be unreadable by Chevy MyLink. In studying MyLink, I read that sometimes, a stick with multiple file types on-board might cause readability problems for the infotainment system. While I had deleted all of the Linux files from the drive, reading that made something click: I realized the drive still had multiple partitions that had been used by the Linux distro.

Thinking perhaps those multiple partitions could cause similar problems to having multiple file types stored on a single drive, I decided now was as good a time as any to get familiar with Linux MintPPC‘s drive management tools, namely GParted. I loaded up the USB stick and, sure enough, there were several partitions that had been created for the purpose of making a “live stick” to be used for installing MintPPC to my aging PowerMac G5 late last year. That didn’t work, by the way, because said G5 can’t boot from the USB drive, as I later found.

Using GParted and MintPPC’s Disk Utility program, I was able to completely format the drive, then create a file system recognized by both my Linux distro and most Apple machines (HFS, if you’re curious). Having completely reformatted the 1 GB drive, I proceeded to copy a 12-artist chunk of my music library over to it, which went off without a hitch. After choosing to “safely eject the media,” I again went out to my damp driveway to test the stick.

No go, again. Same story as last time: The stick lights up, so I know it’s got a solid connection and is getting power, but the USB icon on MyLink’s home screen is grayed out, and pressing the SRC button cycles only through AM, FM, and XM radio bands. It would cycle through CD as well, but of course, I had no CD in the drive during this test. I inserted the second USB stick– the working one– back into the port and not only did MyLink recognize it, the system picked up playing right where it left off when I had pulled the drive out of the socket.

Do I consider it a big deal that MyLink couldn’t recognize my USB drive? Not at all. As cheap as flash media is becoming, it’s a minor inconvenience, at worst. Fact is, both of the tested USB sticks I’ve mentioned during the “My Week with Eq” series have been freebies given to me by business contacts. When that is taken into consideration, batting .500 isn’t so bad. And USB sticks are nearing $1-per-GB anyway, so even the act of buying a new 8 GB stick wouldn’t hurt my feelings– or my wallet– at all. That kind of cheap storage capacity would give me space to carry more than a day’s worth of music for serious road-trippage.

Disclosure: General Motors provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.

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  • Noah Erickson

    It probably doesn’t recognize HFS. I’ve had no trouble with different sticks as long as they’re formatted with FAT32. The problem I _have_ had is that when asked to play an album, my 2014 Acadia Denali’s Intellilink system plays that album’s songs in alphabetical order by song title. I’ve tried making sure the filenames start with 01 -, etc. I’ve made sure the ID3 tags are there and correct. I’ve used a special utility that makes sure the files are physically written to the disk in track order. Nothing. My GMC is programmed to play songs in alphabetical order.

    • Lyndon Johnson

      I had never considered that, but it is a distinct possibility.